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Archive for Monday, September 13, 2004

Report: Church still sheltering priests accused of sexual abuse

September 13, 2004

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— Some Roman Catholic religious orders have been sheltering priests in Rome despite claims that the men sexually abused minors, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Of the seven accused priests the newspaper located, one has been indicted in Arizona but refuses to return to face the charges. Two others had admitted to abuse years ago but now face additional claims.

Supervisors of the accused clergy said they were not trying to help the men elude law enforcement or victims, but wanted to give them a place to live and work away from children, the newspaper reported.

In one case, the Rev. Joseph Henn, a member of the Salvatorian order, was indicted last year in Arizona on child molestation charges. The Diocese of Phoenix, where he had worked, had already reached a settlement with one of his accusers in the 1990s, the newspaper said.

Salvatorian officials said in a written statement to the newspaper that they had told Henn to return and face authorities, but he refused.

The Arizona prosecutor in his case, Maricopa County Atty. Rick Romley, noted that priests took vows of obedience and said Henn's superiors had the authority to order him back to America.

In another case, the Rev. Barry Bossa, a member of the Pallottines order, was criminally charged last year in Massachusetts. He has been accused of sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s, when he taught at a Bridgewater, Mass., parish. Bossa had separately pleaded guilty in 1974 to misdemeanor sexual abuse.

A colleague of Bossa's who had monitored him in the United States, the Rev. Terzo Vinci, said the religious order moved Bossa to Rome to isolate him from children and now he was unable to return because of his health.

"It's not a promotion," Vinci said. "He went to Rome in exile. Zero promotion. Zero anything."

The Rev. James Tully, of the Xaverian Missionary Fathers, was moved to Rome two years ago, about a month after he was accused of inappropriately touching a boy several decades earlier, the newspaper said. Tully had pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct in 1992 for giving alcohol to three boys and grabbing one of them.

An official with Tully's order said his transfer to Rome was unrelated to the abuse allegations. The official said the clergyman was recovering from working in war-torn parts of Africa and was not ready for ministry in the United States.

The newspaper identified the men as part of a yearlong investigation that found more than 200 priests accused of abuse have been moved from country to country. Nearly half of the cases involved clergy who tried to elude law enforcement, the newspaper said.

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